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As a social movement works its way through a culture, sometimes we discover surprising disconnects or parallels. Dr. Danny Sands and I were recently interviewed for the Psych Central podcast, and in the process, host Gabe Howard said something exactly like that. Here’s the story.

Psych Central is the terrific mental health community mentioned by “Doc Tom” Ferguson in the e-Patient White Paper, the founding document of our Society. (At bottom I’ll paste in an excerpt.) Created by SPM co-founder John Grohol Psy.D, today Psych Central is a website and enormous online forum (456,000 members) of people discussing and learning about everything from day-to-day problems (recent blog post: How to Rebuild After a Break Up) to major mental health conditions, with weekly newsletter (185,000 subscribers).

The interview introduces participatory medicine to the Psych Central audience. Much of it will be familiar to regular readers, but as always in a good podcast, the value is in the interaction. Gabe himself only discovered SPM last fall, and instantly joined. Here’s his killer quote, at 22:45 :-)

People in the mental health space believe that the reason doctors are ignoring them is because of the mental illness – when in actuality it’s this culture.

Exactly: that’s why SPM’s tagline is “Transforming the Culture of Care.” He continues:

It’s how doctors feel about patients, and how we respond to these things, etc., and many people, with many different diagnoses, are all going through the same thing. We often feel very isolated because of the mental illness, when in actuality we have a lot more in common with people than we realize. And in a way, that’s progress! We’re not alone.

Psych Central is one example of how the internet has altered what’s possible in health and care. We’re glad this podcast will close the loop, feeding the participatory concept back to this community that Doc Tom wrote about. See his excerpt about Grohol and his community  below. (You can join SPM here – a lifetime membership costs less than one year in most medical societies, and a single year is ridiculously cheap.)

What Doc Tom wrote about Psych Central in 2005

This extract is from Chapter 6, “Learning from e-Patients.” You can download the full paper in English or Spanish.

“e-Therapy is not just psychotherapy transplanted to an online medium,” says White Paper advisor John Grohol, PhD. “It is something completely new. And for some patients, it appears to be not only more convenient, but also more effective, than conventional psychotherapy.” Psychologist Grohol, who founded the pioneering mental health website Psych Central ( and wrote The Insider’s Guide to Mental Health Resources Online, coined the term ‘e-therapy’ in 1993.

“From a public health point of view, e-therapy offers a way to reach millions of patients with psychological and mental health conditions who would be unlikely to seek face-to-face therapy,” Grohol says. “One in five Americans has a diagnosable psychological problem, yet nearly two-thirds of those affected never seek professional help.6 Some feel they can’t afford it. Some find it too embarrassing to discuss sensitive issues face to face. Others come from cultures in which seeking professional help for mental health problems is considered a sign or weakness or instability. But a new generation of mental health professionals is now learning to use the Internet to extend a helping hand to those who would never darken a therapist’s door. And as a result, thousands of e‑patients are now finding online mental health services more accessible than ever before.”


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